Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To engage the services of; put to work: agreed to employ the job applicant.
  • transitive v. To provide with gainful work: factories that employ thousands.
  • transitive v. To put to use or service. See Synonyms at use.
  • transitive v. To devote (time, for example) to an activity or purpose: employed several months in learning Swahili.
  • n. The state of being employed: in the employ of the city.
  • n. Archaic Occupation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being an employee; employment.
  • v. to hire (somebody for work or a job)
  • v. to use (a person for a job)
  • v. to make busy

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To inclose; to infold.
  • transitive v. To use; to have in service; to cause to be engaged in doing something; -- often followed by in, about, on, or upon, and sometimes by to; as: (a) To make use of, as an instrument, a means, a material, etc., for a specific purpose; to apply
  • transitive v. To occupy; as, to employ time in study.
  • transitive v. To have or keep at work; to give employment or occupation to; to intrust with some duty or behest.
  • n. That which engages or occupies a person; fixed or regular service or business; employment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To inclose; infold.
  • To give occupation to; make use of the time, attention, or labor of; keep busy or at work; use as an agent.
  • To make use of as an instrument or means; apply to any purpose: as, to employ medicines in curing diseases.
  • To occupy; use; apply or devote to an object; pass in occupation: as, to employ an hour, a day, or a week; to employ one's life.
  • Synonyms Employ, Hire. Hire and employ are words of different meaning. To hire is to engage in service for wages. The word does not imply dignity; it is not customary to speak of hiring a teacher or a pastor; we hire a man for wages; we employ him for wages or a salary. To employ is thus a word of wider signification. A man hired to labor is employed, but a man may be employed in a work who is not hired; yet the presumption is that the one employing pays. Employ expresses continuous occupation more often than hire does.
  • n. Occupation; employment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose
  • n. the state of being employed or having a job
  • v. engage or hire for work

Etymologies

Middle English emploien, from Old French emploier, from Latin implicāre, to involve : in-, in.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French employer, from Latin implicare ("to infold, involve, engage"), from in ("in") + plicare ("to fold"). Compare imply and implicate, which are doublets of employ . (Wiktionary)

Examples

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